Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Zen Lawyer

My own tenets of faith lead me to believe that being at peace with others is a virtue. Law practice, then, would seem to be in direct conflict with this philosophy. Lawyer jokes abound in society for a reason; yet while much of law practice is seemingly contentious in nature, I see lawyers as capable of serving as the ultimate facilitators of peace.

To me, the practice of law is most virtuous when it is pure in its pursuit of understanding. In understanding, we realize the end of strife and the beginnings of resolution. Resolution ushers in peace, it preserves; strife does the opposite. We can preserve ourselves, our society, and countless relationships, by seeking understanding. To resolve conflict, preemptively or not, rather than create it, is the job of a lawyer. The unique position of being on the front-lines of controversies in society gives lawyers the opportunity to facilitate peace by advocating for resolutions which incorporate the goals of all parties concerned. Of course, not all lawyering is about reaching accord. Sometimes being a good lawyer is being the best “hired-gun” possible; to get a win for the client is a virtue itself.

As I wrestle with my own yearnings for peace and understanding in an environment brimming with discord, I appreciate that at my core I feel no conflict. To breed understanding is to facilitate peace and ultimately to ensure preservation.

Bowed down then preserved;
Bent then straight;
Hollow then full;
Worn then new;
A little then benefited;
A lot then perplexed.

Therefore the sage embraces the One and is a model for the empire.

He does not show himself, and so is conspicuous;
He does not consider himself right, and so is illustrious;
He does not brag, and so has merit;
He does not boast, and so endures.

It is because he does not contend that no one in the empire is in a position to contend with him.

The way the ancients had it, 'Bowed down then preserved', is no empty saying. Truly it enables one to be preserved to the end.”

From the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu.

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